Ahead of a potential no-deal Brexit, the Government has announced that it will start automatically enrolling UK firms in the customs system.
As a result, this will enable UK businesses to continue to trade with European Union (EU) members after the UK leaves the EU.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has confirmed that all VAT-registered firms in the UK who have not already signed up to the customs system will receive their Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number within the next two weeks.
Thus far, 72,000 companies have registered for an EORI number, meaning that as of 31 October once the UK has left the EU, companies will be allowed to continue to trade with customers and suppliers in the EU.
However, if the remaining 88,000 firms fail to auto-enrol through the Government’s scheme they will not be allowed to trade with EU member states after Brexit.
Chancellor, Sajid Javid said: “The move would help ease the flow of goods at border points and support businesses to trade and grow.”
Nicole Sykes, Head of EU Negotiations at CBI said: “The web of short and long-term consequences of a no-deal Brexit goes well beyond this, which are both complex and damaging.
“That’s why the Government must put just as much time and effort into securing a deal.”
Dr Adam Marshall, Director General at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), stated that auto-enrolment was long overdue but still only a first step.
“For many firms, it will trigger more questions. Businesses still need clarity on many other cross-border trade issues, such as customs procedures at borders following a no-deal exit and when the Government will launch an official database to provide ease of access to information on tariffs and quotas.”